Have a stressful Job??? - a good read
The Scotsman (Edinburgh, Scotland), Jan. 20, 2006
A STRESSFUL JOB COULD BE THE DEATH OF YOU
By Louise Gray
WORKING is bad for you, according to a study that found people in
stressful jobs are almost twice as likely to develop heart disease and
The discovery may seem obvious to many, but it is the first time
scientists have found a biological reason why stressed workers might
Scientists at University College London questioned more than 10,000
civil servants aged from 35 to 55 between 1985 and 1999 to gauge how
stressful their lives were.
They found those workers who reported higher stress were more likely
to suffer from "metabolic syndrome", a cluster of factors including
high blood pressure, insulin resistance and high cholesterol, that
increase the risk of heart disease and diabetes.
Dr Tarani Chandola, the epidemiologist who led the study, said both
men and women who suffered chronic stress at work were nearly twice as
likely to develop the syndrome.
"Stress at work is linked with heart disease... People who report
themselves to be stressed all the time at work have a much higher risk
of metabolic syndrome."
Factors such as social position, smoking or drinking heavily, physical
inactivity and not eating enough fruit and vegetables were taken into
account. However, those in stressful jobs also reported less healthy
lifestyles, adding further to the risk of heart disease and diabetes.
Dr Chandola said there were two main reasons why stressed people were
First, stress affects the "autonomic nervous system", speeding up the
heart rate and putting a strain on the heart.
Second, stress affects the neuroendocrine system. Because people are
constantly in stressed situations at work, their body is producing the
hormone cortisol, which makes it more alert but means other functions
such as tissue regeneration are neglected.
He added: "We think work stress relates to an increased heart rate and
lower heart-rate variability. [Also] people who are repeatedly
stressed have high levels of cortisol which prevents some bodily
Both men and women from lower employment grades were more likely to
have the metabolic syndrome.
Dr Chandola said this was because people in such jobs have less
control, fewer support mechanisms and are not rewarded as much for
He advised companies to redesign the work environment so employees are
more comfortable. Individuals should try cognitive behavioural therapy
to find ways to feel more in control at work.
Professor Peter Weissberg, medical director of the British Heart
Foundation, said people can protect against heart disease -- even if
they cannot give up work. He said: "The findings of this study support
the BHF's view that regular exercise and a sensible diet should help
to defend against developing heart disease, regardless of the stresses
of their daily life."
Copyright 2006 Scotsman.com
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